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The Migration of the Victorian Family to Dudley Colliery, Northumberland, 1861.



This report examines the migration of people to Dudley Colliery, Northumberland in 1861. Using the Census Enumerators Books for 1861 to analyse the movement of people into Dudley Colliery village. Using the 156 heads of household from a systematic survey and their children to examine their migration. Relating it to Ravenstein’s laws of migration to test the hypothesis that People migrate step by step and that they do not migrate with children. Findings were that families do migrate step by step with young children. This work is related to two other researchers.


 Aims and Strategy.

The aim of this report is to look at the colliery village of Dudley in Weetslade, Northumberland in the year 1861. Using the C.E.B for that year to establish where the original residents of Dudley migrated from to the newly sunk Dudley colliery as the area was one of farmland in 1851 with 67 people living in the farms of High Weetslade, Low Weetslade, Greenhouses, Annitsford and High Barns. By 1861 it there was a colliery village of 825 inhabitants living in 149 houses that made up the colliery village. I would like to look at the migration of the families to Dudley using the heads of the household and their children. Which I have systematically sampled from the 149 houses in the village with reference to Ravenstiens laws of migration to see how closely the people who came to Dudley followed his rules. I will be looking at two of the Laws of migration by Ravenstien rule number one which states that the majority of people only migrate short distances. Also law seven which states that it was mostly adults that migrate. I will use the data I have gathered to see how many children had moved into Northumberland with their families to test this law. I have used all the children in the families to examine the migration of the people living in Dudley as I felt this would better illustrate the step by step migration unlike as suggested by Pryce (1994, p. 107). Using only the head and the eldest child, as I wanted to see how many moves the heads born in Northumberland made to Dudley. As I felt this might not have given a clear picture of the family movements I wondered how Ravenstien drew up his laws of migration, as law two seems to contradict law seven. If I can use the children to examine the movements of families in Northumberland in 1861 then this will prove law seven to be wrong. But if there are no children to track the movements of the family then the law seven that states that people migrate without children will be right. I have looked at the place of birth of the heads of household and family members with the aim of following the movement of the heads of family by using the place of birth of the children in the heads nuclear family. I have used Ravenstiens terms when referring to migration which means that Local-journey means a person who moves around their place of birth. Short Journey a person who has migrated from their place of birth to a neighbouring county and Long-Journey migrant some one who has crossed several counties to get to Northumberland

Relationship to the work of other researchers.

I have related this project to the work of Diana Rau who looked at migration to Chalcots in 1851 although my research is in 1861 with a working class community I intend to attempt to compare findings to see if there are any similarities between the two communities. Also, to compare these finding to test Ravenstiens laws of migration. I have for the purpose of this project adopted from Rau (1984) the age of 15 and under for children although in Dudley colliery 52 people were working under the age of 15. When comparing my findings with Rau’s (1984) figures for migration from birthplace I found that my findings are the reverse of hers. As 60% of the Dudley residents came from near districts that is the county of Northumberland the place of their birth as opposed to 18% migration in Chalcotes. In Dudley the Long-journey migrants where only 18% in Chalcotes they where 46% (Rau, 1984, p18). With regard to the Extended family related to the head of the house the findings where again in reverse order where she has 58% for brothers and sisters in Dudley it was 28% for mothers and fathers she has 16% where as in Dudley they were 45%, see table one. With Children in the households under 15 years old findings where similar until the larger numbers of resident 15 years and under see table two. The Chalcote families had more resident children 15 and under.

 Table One

Generations per. household, Dudley.

Number of generations per. household, 1 generation is head and spouse, 2 would be parents with children.

 Table Two

Households with children under 15, Dudley

There were 62 children born in Dudley by 1861 the oldest was four years old which would leave 70 children under the age of 15 born in Dudley that means that children would be arriving into Dudley from 1857 at the age of 11 and under.

The differences in the families of Dudley and Chalcotes could be due to Chalcotes having been being developed since the 1830’s which has given families time to settle and have children. Also the difference in findings for resident extended family would possible be due to the fact that in Dudley as a colliery village the housing would be tied. That is if you work for the colliery you have a house if you stop working for the colliery you have to vacate the house for the next person to be employed by the colliery. Which would mean in many cases where people were to old to work they had to rely on their sons and daughters who worked to provide them with a home.


Description and evaluation of sources and methods used.

I have used the C.E.B for 1861 which gives much information about the people who were living in Dudley in 1861 from these records can be found the names, addresses, the relationships of the people to the head of household, their ages and their marital status and place of birth. Where the C.E.B’s fall down is in the way they record occupations as in the case of a colliery village, which itself is surrounded by colliery villages a man listed as coal miner could walk to a neighbouring village to work. In the neighbouring colliery and not as it could be assumed the colliery in his own village. The same problem can occur with women listed as servant living in colliery housing to whom is she a servant. There is also difficulty in finding places of birth in some cases I was unable to find the place that was listed on a map. This could be due to the growth and development of some of the villages, which could have been cleared as slums or absorbed into new towns and possibly, renamed in the last 136 years. I have for reference been using a 1 inch to the mile reproduction of a 1865 ordinance survey map of Northumberland the map has been essential when doing my research as it gives an opportunity to see what the area was like in 1861. A failing of the map is that it was not contemporary with the time of my report. There is also a problem with interpreting the hand writing in many of the sources that where examined. Other sources such as Parish records were not very helpful as the village was a colliery village and later went on to have a Methodist church. I had looked at the parish records for the church of England in the area Longbenton but these did not seem to have many entries in for the year 1861, although in one respect it did illustrate the high mortality rate of children. When using the children to map out where the parents moved in their migration to Dudley, which can leave gaps in the movement patterns. As out of 25 burials recorded in St. Bartholomew's, Longbenton, parish records, Dudley was in this parish, 16 (64%) were less than 15 years old showing the high mortality of children during this period. Which I think can be one of the failings of the C.E.Bs with regard to using them to track the movement of families by the place of birth of their children. The use of the C.E.B leaves the researcher open to speculation as to where people actually got married, as a mixed marriage of people from two counties with no children gives no clues as to where they were married. It is my intention to try and find out if the people of Dudley came from the neighbouring villages or if they came from long distances.

Main findings

Dudley Colliery came into existence in the 1850’s this was a period of the great railway expansion across Britain. The Newcastle to Berwick track was opened in 1847, which passed through Weetslade and was later to be used by the Dudley colliery to transport its coal to the Pans at Howdon. There is a Stationmaster living at Dudley station in 1861, which would have made migration to the village easy. The Great North road also passes within a mile of Dudley so for the families migrating to the area there was plenty of access. As Dudley is approximately 6 miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne and all the industry and commerce of the city and its river see map one. There was a great many collieries and farms inland from the Tyne with its shipping and docks so there would have possibly been a lot of work in the area before the pit at Dudley was even sunk. An added attraction would also have been that the housing in Dudley was new. The sinking of Dudley colliery was during the early years of the industrial revolution when there was great demand through out Britain for coal to fuel the industries of iron and steel. Which was needed for the building of machinery, trains and bridges some of the machinery was to be used in the collieries in the for of pumps and headgear’s which enabled the miners to extract coal from deeper seams. ‘It was found that 50% of the migrants of Bristol had not come directly’ (Grigg, 1977, p.153). From the sample taken of the heads of Household in Dudley a colliery village it was found that 39% had migrated there from counties outside Northumberland.



Long-journey Migration.

In Dudley 1861 there were 27 (18%) heads of family who where long-journey migrants and 25 (17.24%) residents who where wives and 32 (10.25%) of the children under the age of 15 were long-journey migrants. See table three. Of the Long-Journey migrants from Ireland there were 10 heads, 9 of the heads and their wives were born in Ireland. Of These 1 Irish head had a Scottish wife, 5 of the 10 families had children born in Scotland, 2 of the families had children born in Durham and 1 head had a child born in Northumberland. And 2 heads had no children so for the purpose of this report it is assumed that they moved straight to Northumberland. With the Irish who would migrate and then settle into enclaves (Dennis and Daniels, 1981). It is not easy to tell if they migrated with their families settled in Scotland and then married another Irish national in Scotland. Out of the ten heads of household born Ireland only one had a mixed marriage and that was to a Scots woman. During my research I have found that it was even quite cheap for the Irish to migrate across the Irish sea as captains would use the Irish as a living ballast which would take less time to unload than the normal ballast used. (Smith, 1991). There are 5 heads in Dudley who had migrated from Scotland to Dudley only 2 heads had married a Scotswoman another married an Irish woman and a third married a woman from Durham. One Scotsman married a woman from Northumberland and had two children in Durham. One of the Scottish heads of house was a widow with two children born in Northumberland. Other long-journey migrants from Yorkshire had more mixed marriages than the Irish families. Although there are 12 residents of Dudley born in Yorkshire of a total of 6 heads only one family, the head, wife and child originating from Yorkshire and apparently migrated straight to Dudley. The rest of the heads, 3 had wives born in Northumberland 1 had a wife born in Newcastle on Tyne and a child born Durham another had a wife born Durham and no children 2 heads had wives born in Northumberland and 1 child each born in Durham and Northumberland. The last Yorkshire head of house had 3 children born in 3 different locations in Northumberland. Unlike a family from Lancashire who moved from their place of birth in Lancashire to Derbyshire had 2 children aged 7 and 12 then moved to Yorkshire having a child recorded on the 1861 C.E.B as 5 years old. Which would mean that this family moved from Derbyshire to Yorkshire with a child aged 2 years and then on from Yorkshire to Dudley with a child less than 5 years old as their next child is 3 months old at the time of the census in 1861. Another Lancashire family appear to have moved straight to Dudley there are 5 children born in Lancashire aged, 14 and 5 also 2 children born Dudley aged 2 and 3 months which would mean that this family migrated from Lancashire with a child of 3 years old. The longest individual Migration living in the Dudley of 1861, would be Thomas Reveley aged 28 who it would appear moved from Devon to Norfolk where he married and had 2 children aged 8 and 12 then moved it would appear directly to Northumberland. There, having another 2 children one aged 4 born Hartley in Northumberland the other aged 1 born Dudley. This family would have been migrating with a child as young as 4, also bringing the extended family of his mother in law a 64 year old widow with him. Of course he could have migrated from county to county but as there are no children for this period of time it must be assumed he moved directly to Northumberland and cannot be traced in the mean time.

Table Three.

Migration from Birth place

There are 6 heads of household whose place of birth was not known and whose families I have not included.

Border counties are those of Newcastle on Tyne, Durham and Cumberland, which border on to Northumberland. Further are the counties of Lancashire, Norfolk Devon and Yorkshire. Which Ravenstien designated long-migration i.e. across a county? Extended family includes grand children niece’s nephew’s brothers, and in law for a detailed breakdown see table four.


Table four

Relationship of kin in Household.


 Short-journey Migration.

Short-journey migration these people came from the counties bordering on Northumberland, Newcastle on Tyne (Newcastle on Tyne was a county from 1400 until 1882 when it became a city) and Durham and Cumberland. Of the people who were Short-journey migrants 32 (21%) were male heads of family and 30 (20.68%) were wives here again the families migrated with their children in this case 36 (11.53%) were children under 15. There are 31 heads of household living in Dudley from the bordering counties of Durham, Cumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne, 8 of which brought children with them from their county of birth. There were 8 couples living in Dudley who had no children and 15 couples had children born only in Northumberland. Which would mean that 23 of the short journey migrants had apparently migrated straight to Northumberland. Only 13 of the couples in Dudley had married a spouse from the place of their birth. From that 13, 10 had married a spouse born in another county, of this 10 it is impossible to tell if the head from the border county had migrated to Northumberland with his/her family. Or migrated alone and met their spouse while living in Northumberland or whether the wife/husband had moved out of Northumberland and met their spouse in the county of their birth moving back into Northumberland after the marriage. The families did not all migrate straight to Dudley when moving into Northumberland. After leaving the county of their birth using the children as a guide it would appear that one family moved through four locations, 2 moved through three locations 5 moved through two locations and seven families had children with only one place of birth before arriving a Dudley.

There can be complications when studying migration as in the case of the Hislop family head, born Durham, living in Dudley in 1861 with a son age 10 born Durham and a child age 7 born Cramlington Northumberland. This would mean that the eldest child would have been 3 years old at the time of the migration. Then the next child was age 2 born Durham then they moved to Dudley Northumberland on census night where they have a child aged 1 year so this family had since 1854 been crossing back and forth across the border of Northumberland and Durham.

Local-journey Migration.

There were at the time of the 1861 census 91 heads of house living in Dudley who where born in Northumberland. There were 11 heads without children 5 where not married and there were 6 heads, which had children that were only born in Dudley. As such did not count in the step migration table see table five of the remaining 74 heads of house who where in Dudley with children they had all arrived there step by step migration. Of the 83 Married heads in Dudley 67 had wives born in Northumberland, 10 had wives from the bordering counties and 6 had wives from further counties. Also of the 74 heads of family 58 had a different place of birth to their eldest child 16 had the same birth place, of the 16, 7 had step migrated and 9 had all their children in the heads place of birth before moving to Dudley.

Table five

Step migration of Northumberland Heads of House.

The process of migration was not all one way, as 11 of the heads living in Dudley had migrated out of Northumberland then after having children moved back into Northumberland. Of that 11 families 6 had children born in Durham, 1 had children born in Newcastle on Tyne, 2 had children born both in Newcastle on Tyne and Durham, 2 families had children born in Scotland. These families migrated from county to county with children as young as 1 year old as in the case of John Whitton who had 3 children born in Scotland aged 1, 3, 5 in 1861. Another the Wardal family head and wife born Northumberland, with a child aged 12 born Newcastle on Tyne, 8 born Northumberland and 6 born Durham which would mean that the two eldest children where migrating across county borders when they where aged 4 and 2.


It must be remembered that this is only a snap shot in the migration of these families and soon after the census many of the families many have moved to a new location. I found that in looking at the data collected to examine step by step migration I was using the births of the children in the families to get the overall picture of the migration which in its self disproves Law seven, that families do not migrate. It would appear from the families that were migrating from counties outside of Northumberland that many of these families that migrated from other counties did so with their families. Apart from unmarried children and extended family members there are 34 other residents of Dudley for breakdown and distribution in households see table six.

Table six

Non family residents.

Out of a total of 825 people there are 221 (26%) of people living in Dudley from outside of Northumberland. Out of those 221 migrants 125 (56%) were Short -Journey migrants who only moved into the county bordering on their place of birth? The remaining 96 (43%) were Long-Journey migrants travelling across several counties. In conclusion families did migrate not only with their children but also with extended family members.



Dennis, D & Daniels, F. (1981). ‘ "Community" and the social geography of Victorian cities’ in Drake, Michael. (1995). ‘Time, Family and Community.’

The Open University in association with Blackwell.

Grigg, D. B. (1977). ‘E. G. Ravenstein and the "Laws of migration" ‘

in Drake, Michael. (1995). ‘Time, Family and Community.’

The Open University in association with Blackwell.

Pryce, W.T.R. (1994). ‘From Family History to Community History.’ Cambridge University Press In association with The Open University.

Rau, Diana (1984). ‘Who chose Chalcots? Aspects of Family and Social Structure in 1851.’ DA301 Offprints Booklet One, (1994). The Open University.

Smith, Cicil. (1991). ‘The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849.’ Penguin books

Tyne & Wear Archives

C.E.B, Dudley Colliery, Weetslade, Northumberland, 1861,MF67

Tyne & Wear Archives.

Saint Bartholomew's, Longbenton, Parish Records, Burials, 1861,MF495


Sheet Six Reprint of the First Edition of the One-Inch Ordinance Survey of England and Wales, Newcastle and Sunderland.

Published by David & Charles, Brunel House, Newton Abbot, Devon.